Levant: Does the pope still matter in international relations?
Yes, for two reasons.
Unlike politicians, he is not susceptible to the whimsy of public opinion, or the ever-shorter attention spans of the mass media. So where nation after nation abandons the cause of freedom in places like Iraq and Afghanistan, the Pope can take the long view.
Second, the Pope does something that politicians often do not: he makes the moral case, not just a technical legal case, for his policies. So in a place like Nigeria, which is the front line between pluralism and sharia fascism, the Pope can articulate a policy based on right and wrong, not just the desiccated jargon of professional diplomats.